French President Emanuel Macron said Saturday that his country should not “humiliate” Russia during its war with Ukraine — prompting the Ukrainian foreign minister to retort that Macron “can only humiliate France.”
“We must not humiliate Russia so that the day when the fighting stops we can build an exit ramp through diplomatic means,” Macron said in an interview published Saturday with regional newspapers. “I am convinced that it is France’s role to be a mediating power.”
Macron also said, “I think, and I told [Putin], that he is making a historic and fundamental mistake for his people, for himself and for history.’
Ukrainian Foreign minister Dmitro Kuleba delivered a scathing response on Twitter, declaring that Ukraine and its allies should instead work to “put Russia in its place.”
Russia invaded Ukraine in an unprovoked attack beginning in February and has leveled cities and killed thousands of civilians as Ukraine has fought back with the support of NATO and the West.
“Calls to avoid humiliation of Russia can only humiliate France and every other country that would call for it,” he tweeted Saturday.
“Because it is Russia that humiliates itself,” he added. “We all better focus on how to put Russia in its place. This will bring peace and save lives.”
Since President Vladamir Putin’s late February invasion of Ukraine, Macron has attempted to maintain contact with him. In recent months, his strategy has been ripped by some European allies who view it as hampering efforts to force Putin to negotiate an end to the war.
Since the siege began 100 days ago, Macron has spoken with Putin regularly since the invasion — attempts at reaching an agreement on a ceasefire and starting negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow.
During an 80-minute phone call last week, the leaders of France and Germany pleaded with Putin for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine. Last month, the pair of Western European countries blocked the war-torn country’s bid to join the European Union.
Asked on national television about the mediation offer, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak responded that there was “no point in holding negotiations” with Russia until Ukraine had received new weapons from the West and pushed Russian forces back “as far as possible to the borders of Ukraine.”
Currently, Russia occupies about 20% of Ukrainian territory, as Kyiv receives more powerful weapons from America.
Among other munitions, the United States will give Ukraine precision HIMARS rocket systems that allow the country to target Russian positions from a longer range.
For its part, France has supplied offensive weapons including Caesar howitzer cannon taken from French army stocks. Macron said he had requested weapons manufacturers to speed up production.
“Our armed forces are ready to use [the new weapons] … and then I think we can initiate a new round of talks from a strengthened position,” David Arakhamia — a Ukrainian lawmaker and a member of the negotiation team — said Friday.
With Post wires